PECO Energy invests in flourescent lights

    PECO Energy is betting big on compact fluorescent light bulbs. A law signed by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in October requires the utility to cut its energy use by 1% by 2011, and 3% by 2013.

    PECO Energy is betting big on compact fluorescent light bulbs. A law signed by Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell in October requires the utility to cut its energy use by 1% by 2011, and 3% by 2013. So the utility is about to spend 20 million dollars to distribute CFL bulbs for free or at heavily discounted prices. But all those new bulbs also come with small amounts of mercury.

    Listen:
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    While PECO’s 6 million new compact fluorescent light bulbs could save a lot of energy, they will also slightly raise customers’ risk of mercury poisoning, as the new bulbs contain trace amounts of the toxic substance.

    But PennFuture’s Tom Tuffey says the small increase in risk is worth it.

    Tuffey: For somebody that you know accidentally breaks a bulb in their home, the exposure here is not immense. I think it’s quite a manageable problem, and if we weigh the benefits of CFLs, both in terms of environment and cost to people, against the mercury risk, I think we’re way in the far of the benefit.

    Several big-box retailers accept the compact fluorescent bulbs for proper disposal.

    And an expert in the Philadelphia office of the EPA says that the mercury in CFLs is tiny compared to the mercury in the air from coal-fired power plants.

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